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I’m a senior software engineer and currently nearing the end of my six month probation. I believe I’ve performed well so far and have no reason to think my employment won’t be made permanent. However I’m deeply unhappy about how the work has panned out (especially in the last few months) since I’ve been made to do hardly any actual development and been made to do lots of testing type activities (originally I was primarily hired to be the lead on doing cloud development but this work keeps getting pushed back and I’m left to do work that’s way below my capabilities).

I seriously want to look for a new role in the upcoming weeks but I’m not sure how much indication I should give of my unhappiness of the situation during my end of probation review. I certainly don’t want to just quit without having another job offer so what advice would people have about how I express my concerns about the role to my boss? How tactful should I be?

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  • Location? Do you have a contract that would prevent you from leaving after your probationary period?
    – Seth R
    Jul 22 at 18:10
  • @auburg, Yeah, this kind of things happens to many programmers, who asked similar questions here. You can nicely and diplomatically ask your boss to give your more coding tasks, and at the same time search for new jobs elsewhere. Certainly, you are right that you "don’t want to just quit without having another job offer". Jul 22 at 18:21
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    6 month probation is very long. Well you wait for a permanent job and then tell your manager what bother you. If he does not want to help you, just take your time and find another job. Work shouldn't be a pain.
    – PowerCat
    Jul 26 at 12:20
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I seriously want to look for a new role in the upcoming weeks but I’m not sure how how much indication I should give of my unhappiness of the situation during my end of probation review. I certainly don’t want to just quit without having another job offer so what advice would people have about what how I express my concerns about the role to my boss? How tactful should I be?

You should have been discussing your concerns with your boss all along. Probation is designed so that both sides can determine if there is a good fit before making a bigger commitment.

Find a time now to chat with your boss. Express that you like the company but are disappointed with the tasks you've been assigned. Try to get a sense as to whether or not this will be your role going forward.

Meanwhile, make sure your job search is in full gear.

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    Thanks- yes I should have communicated this sooner rather than leaving it right till the end of probation. Unfortunately I didnt have any one to one’s at all with my boss although that wouldn’t have stopped me from arranging one anyway. I think there’s no point in beating round the bush and outline my concerns and see what happens
    – auburg
    Jul 22 at 15:13
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    The lack of feedback may tell your manager that you were actually fine with the arrangement until things pick up. He can't sit there and figure out whether you're happy or not.
    – Nelson
    Jul 23 at 2:35
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You should always address anything like this with your manager. How can they help you sort it out if they don't know? They may not be able to do anything about it, but unless you communicate they may not know to try. This should really have been addressed in a weekly one-on-one. If you don't have that you have a bad manager (frequency can reduce after a while if it makes sense).

If you need to reset, I suppose a novel approach might be that you ask to extend your probation while you resolve your issues. Of course that only makes sense if you get significant advantage over converting to full time, e.g. a much shorter notice period. Otherwise, pass probation and keep looking but as I said, it seems odd that your manager does not seem to understand your situation and you seem to think he should be a mind reader.

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"What if(!)" your boss has insights and perspectives that you haven't had – simply because you've never yet been where (s)he is?

"What if(!)" your boss has things that (s)he could offer you, if you asked?

"What if(!)" your boss has discretion to change your situation, if you expressed your concerns, and your present discontent?

"The two of you need to talk." But first: "realize that the healthy relationship between 'boss' and 'subordinate' is not(!) adversarial!"

A much better way to look at this situation is to realize that "your boss is dealing with a higher 'level of abstraction' than you are, even though both of you are in fact dealing with the selfsame business objective or function. You are on the same team, but, "'your boss' is looking at things from a perspective that you've probably never thought of – unless and until you become one."

So, don't wait ... and, don't be afraid. You two need to talk.

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